Luke Sciberras

6 There are wanderings and trajectories that bring artists to their subjects and there are moments and friendships that become revelations. When the Art Gallery of New South Wales nominated me to represent them as the guest artist on a fund-raising art safari to the Kimberley coast, I met the invitation with equal measures of delight and trepidation. I had always held the Kimberley as a wild dreamlike place of staggering beauty and an impenetrable geography, a place I realised that was not to be traversed without invitation or guidance. So in partnership with the Paspaley family, a great confluence was streamed to form the beginning of a series of journeys into some of the most remote and beautiful places in the world. The Atelier group at the AGNSW, Paspaley Pearling Company, the Dambimangari and Wunambal-Gaambera people, have been the most exemplary hosts and guides, into a part of Australia that not only introduced me to a new view but a new way of seeing the Australian landscape. One hopes that every work or every series of works is revelatory somehow, and here in these works I present a body of paintings reflecting my new thoughts from my second visit in two years to the top end of this massive continent. The estuaries, escarpments, geology and vegetation of the Kimberley are altogether unique and the place has an energy entirely its own. From Darwin to Broome and beyond, the immensity and variousness in each corner of that wonderful place takes my breath away. Whether standing on the prow of a boat as it rounds yet another series of islands as the escarpments rose into view, clambering through the baking dusty remains of a bush fire as the Timor Sea sparkles immaculately in the distance, or scaling endless stone cliffs above pristine beaches lined with the ubiquitous boabs, I was enchanted by the majestic landscape that appears as exotic as it is endearingly familiar. I don’t know how long boabs live for but they seem to hum with an energy and wisdom that normally only comes with a sentient and aged creature. They line the beaches and escarpments like semaphore signals at once beckoning and warning as they stand their ground anchoring the cliffs to the sea. By far the most rewarding and nourishing aspect to being an artist is to launch into new and challenging situations and this surely has been all of those things. With any new landscape there is an immersion, fierce observation and then cool reflection. Somehow the dreamlike, painterly version seeps through the porous matter and over months in the studio an accumulation of marks, shapes and forms begin to express the essence of a place that is revisited every time a painting is returned to the easel. This second trip to the Kimberley was made with my dear friend Elisabeth Cummings with whom I have painted in many and various places for over twenty five years. I’d like to dedicate this exhibition to her. Luke Sciberras 2019